How To Get Your Music Heard By Record Labels

Getting your music noticed by a record label can be difficult, particularly if you are just getting started in the music industry.  Most major record labels will have hundreds of demos sent to their offices each day, which makes it hard to stand out from the crowd.

The high level of competition means that even the most talented artists often don’t get recognised by record labels immediately.  Famous artists like Debbie Harry, Sheryl Crow, Leonard Cohen, and Matt Berninger (from The National) didn’t get signed to a major label immediately.  They had to spend many years perfecting their craft and attempting to get their music heard by labels.

Fortunately, there are a few techniques you can use to get your music heard by record labels much faster.  This article will share a few of the best.


#1 — Research Record Labels

Before you start sending demos out to record labels, you should perform some research to discover which ones might be interested in hearing your music.  After all, if you are a hip-hop artist, then it a waste of time to send your music to a label that primarily deals with jazz or country music.

The easiest way to identify record labels that might like your music is by checking which labels your favourite artists are on.  If you are an indie artist heavily influence by bands like Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, and Franz Ferdinand, find out which labels they are on.

Once you have determined which record labels might enjoy your style of music, take a look at their demo policy.  The demo policy is a set of rules for all demo tapes that are sent into the record label.  The label’s demo policy might include rules for:

  • If unsolicited demos are accepted or not
  • Where demos need to be sent
  • Which demo formats are accepted (USB sticks, CDs, Internet demos)
  • How they prefer to be contacted

Knowing these rules will increase your chances of having your demo listened to.

#2 — Build an online following

The Internet makes it easy for musicians to share their music with listeners and to build a fanbase.  The best options for building your online profile and growing an online following include:

  • Creating social media profiles
    Social media is a powerful tool for promoting music. Create social media profiles on sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest to share information about your music and yourself.  Post regular updates and links to your best songs.
  • Sharing your music on music and video websites
    If you have high-quality recordings of your music, upload them to websites like YouTube and Soundcloud. If listeners enjoy your music, they will subscribe to your channel and you will quickly grow a following of supportive fans.
  • Building your own website
    Having a website is essential for musical artists. It will allow you to showcase your music and promote yourself as an artist.
  • Creating a newsletter
    Most musical artists use newsletters to keep in touch with fans and update them on new events like a new song being recorded or an upcoming live performance.

Building an online following can dramatically improve your chances of being noticed by a record label as executives are often scouring the Internet looking for talent.  If they find your music online and notice that you have thousands of listeners already, they will immediately know that you have the potential to be a highly successful musical artist.

#3 — Make a great demo

A cassette tape unwound on red background

The quality of your demo tape will determine how likely it is to make it into the hands of a senior record label executive.  Spend the time and money necessary to make a demo that you are proud of.  Your demo should feature professional recordings of your 2 to 3 best songs, along with:

  • A short bio and high-quality picture
  • Creative and eye-catching artwork
  • Clearly labeled contact details
  • Press clippings
  • Links to your social media pages

Make sure all aspects of your demo are professionally presented.  Music labels want to see artists who are enthusiastic, ambitious, and dedicated to their craft.

#4 — Build a live following

Traditionally, music executives would often discover musicians worth signing at live music venues.  While it is less common today, it does still happen.  You may get signed after a music executive wanders into a venue and sees you playing on stage.  Even if a music executive doesn’t initially discover you at a live show, they will want to see that you can perform live, so spend time perfecting your live performances.

#5 — Share your music in the real world

Many musicians manage to get their big break through a combination of hard work and a bit of luck — a friend of a friend may have passed a demo to a guy who worked at a music label who then gave it to their boss.  Increase the likelihood of this kind of happy accident happening by sharing your music with all of the people in your life.  Have CDs or USB sticks with your songs available at all times, so you can give a copy to anyone who is interested in your music.  Tell people that you are a musician and are looking for a label.  Put yourself out there.

Thanks for reading How To Get Your Music Heard By Record Labels.  Subscribe to our site for more useful articles that will help you forge a career in the music industry.

Richard Hammond

I am the founder of 9Mousai and am deeply interested in creativity and what inspires it. My main passions are writing, film and music but I have huge respect for all the arts. I'm also an animal lover and have a little cat called Winston and enjoy the occasional whiskey or two...

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